This past summer, my wife and I took a short vacation to San Francisco. To be honest, our first impression of the city was a little bit underwhelming. Their rapid transit system was dark and gloomy (despite being efficient), there didn’t seem to be many street tree’s and the city was a bit dirty. Then something happened, we started eating (a practice we ended up repeating many times throughout the trip). It didn’t seem to matter where we ate, what food genre, what price point, the food was great everywhere we went. In deciding where to eat, we followed two simple rules.

  1. No Chains
  2. Eat where the locals appear to be eating.



In the end there were many things I ended up loving about San Francisco, but the unexpected highlight of the trip was the food. The city has clearly developed a great food culture. Just like the tech industry has clustered in the Bay Area, great food also seems to have found their own cluster. I am not sure what the genesis of this cluster is, but the City appears to be encouraging this in every way they can. It was common to see restaurants spill out onto the sidewalks and back alleys. Food Trucks also seemed to be permitted all over the city.


In New Westminster, I think we are fortunate to have some great restaurants but I am not sure how big we are on the foodie map. I’d never viewed food as an important urban quality, but after my visit to San Francisco I’ve realized it’s an important ingredient in city building.


  1. My spouse and I love food — good, interesting food at lots of different price points. When we vacation, where we’re going to eat is a big part of our planning. So we would definitely agree that if a city is not a food town, something is missing. San Francisco is definitely a food town! So is New York, of course, although Seattle and Portland have also come way up. As has Vancouver, which I would now consider an actual food mecca. Since we moved to New West more than 14 years ago, we’ve seen the food offerings improve greatly over time, especially in recent years. A food town? Perhaps not yet, but I think we’re doing well for a city of our size. And I hope we can keep doing even better.

  2. Oh absolutely it can. Food is such an essential part that it is – should be, will be 😉 – included in a city’s official community plan! Food contributes in so many ways – it promotes social connectedness and social well-being – bringing people together. It has a tremendous economic impact. And promoting and encouraging the role of food is something that can be supported by policy. Too often it has prominent role in planning only if a city has a lot of ALR land, which of course NW doesn’t have. But the food system includes not just production – it’s also processing, distribution, retail, restaurants, value added products, composting etc – there’s economic potential at every step (ahem, comprehensive food strategy as part of the OCP). Luckily CNW understands it’s role and importance…can’t wait to see how it’s finally included in Our City 2041.

  3. I totally agree about SF being a food mecca. The Mission district has an abundance of Mexican taquerias and bakeries, and there’s a lot of creativity flowing and Michelin stars flourishing all over the place. My husband and I can’t wait to try McNaughton’s Flour + Water.

    New West will eventually get its own foodie destinations. Right now we have family-friendly places, but we need a nice date restaurant that pushes their food to the next level. We’re really excited about El Santo’s opening coming up later this year. With Front Street getting a facelift, I’m sure we’ll get new flavors over the next few years!

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